India women's cricket team
Can Mithali Raj and girls create history on Sunday?Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

We are a little over 24 hours away from the much-anticipated final of ICC Women's World Cup 2017 final between India and three-time champions England, scheduled for 23 July at the Lord's.

There will now be immense pressure on the 22 women, who will be taking the fiel  d at the Mecca of Cricket, which is set to host a sell-out crowd. For the Women in Blue, it will all depend on how they handle the pressure of being in the spotlight.

As it turned out, Raj, who is featuring in her fifth and final World Cup campaign, has led the team from the front and helped India reach only its second world event final after their runner-up finish in 2005.

After winning five of the seven matches, including the opener against England women, in the group stages, India women went on to stun six-time champions Australia in the final, thanks to a whirlwind knock from star all-rounder Harmanpreet Kaur.

Having done most things right in the ongoing campaign, the girls from the subcontinent are a step away from creating history. On Sunday, more than a billion from India and quite a few from across the globe will be rooting for Raj's side as they eye their maiden World Cup win.

Here are five women, who England should be wary of on the big day:


Raj has been in this situation before. In 2005, chasing 216 at Centurion against Australia, India were bowled out for 117 following no-shows from most of their batters, including the skipper.

Throughout her 18-year-long playing career, Raj has been shouldering the burden of being the Ms. Dependable of the team. She even went on to concede that the lack of support from her teammates over the years prevented her from reaching greater heights.

Mithali Raj
Skipper Raj struck a quickfire 71 against England in the openerRichard Heathcote/Getty Images

Despite all the complaints, Raj has not stopped contributing for the team. Even as the other girls in the team are stepping up on the international stage, the 34-year-old, who recently became the first woman to score 6,000 ODI runs, is still a crucial member of India's middle-order.

Raj's vast experience at the highest level came in handy when India were playing a must-win group game against New Zealand last week. If not for the skipper's ton, not many in the country would have awaited the final on Sunday.

It will be important for Raj to maintain a calm head and lead the young team on the biggest stage. If the captain steps up, it will be hard for England to stop the Women in Blue.


Remember the seven monstrous sixes Harmanpreet hit during her match-winning semi-final knock of 171 on Thursday, July 20? The carnage in Derby deflated and knocked out defending champions Australia.

Well, it was not the first time the Chandigarh woman has punished opposition bowlers.

Harmanpreet's big-hitting ability made her the first Indian woman to feature in the Women's Big Bash League Twenty20 tournament last year. The 28-year-old has been an integral part of the modern-day India women's team, that Raj is proud of.

If standing up in pressure situation is a skill, then Harmanpreet is a master of it. To single-handedly deflate six-time champions Australia in the semi-final on alien conditions needs tremendous self-belief and the Sydney Thunder star seems to have loads of it.

Harmanpreet Kaur
Harmanpreet Kaur smashed the highest score by an Indian at Women's World CupRichard Heathcote/Getty Images

England will be well served if they head into the final with a clear plans to stop Harmanpreet.

Jhulan Gowsami

Goswami, ODI cricket's leading wicket-taker with 192 scalped, had also confirmed that she is featuring in her final World Cup. The tall and fearsome pacer did struggle in the initial phase of the ongoing campaign, but she is slowly getting back in the groove.

On her day, the 34-year-old can trouble even the best in the business and it was evident when she cleaned up Australian skipper Meg Lanning with a stunner in the semi-final.

Jhulan Goswami
On top of the world: India's Jhulan Goswami is the leading wicket-taker in ODIsStu Forster/Getty Images

Against an in-form and explosive English top-order, consisting the likes of Sarah Taylor and Tammy Beaumont, the opening spell with the new ball from Goswami will likely influence the result of the big final.

Smriti Mandhana

The 21-year-old elegant left-hander needed very little time to make the India opening spot her own. Having played only 31 ODIs for the country, Mandhana has proved her big-match abilities often in the past.

It was Mandhana's 72-ball 90 that helped India stun hosts England in the tournament opener at Derby on July 20. She followed it up with a ton against West Indies in the second game of the tournament.

smriti mandhana, womens cricket
Can Mandhana step up on the big day?Robert Cianflone/Getty

However, five single-digit scores in the next six outings have followed the Mumbai batter.

Nonetheless, with the backing of the captain, Mandhana will be raring to hurt the three-time champions, once again.

Deepti Sharma

This 19-year-old is a bundle of energy. She can bowl, she can bat and she is livewire on the field as well.

Deepti, with 12 wickets so far, is India's leading wicket-taker in the campaign. With her off-breaks, the Sharanpur teen has been answering her captain's calls efficiently.

On Thursday, it was Deepti, who ended Alex Blackwell's valiant 90-run knock, that was proving dangerous to the chances of Raj's side.

Deepti Sharma
Deepti can spin a web around the English batting line-upStu Forster/Getty Images

Against England, Deepti will be Raj's wrecker-in-chief. While she can hurt opposition with her deception, England batters should also look out for the flatter ones that has often got her the wickets.